A Carlow man has been banned from keeping any dogs for life after an Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) investigation into illegal dog breeding.

At Carlow District Court, on Wednesday, September 29, 2022, Myles Fitzgerald of Craanpursheen, Ballon, Co. Carlow was disqualified from keeping any dogs for life after admitting offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act (AHWA) 2013.

Giving evidence, ISPCA inspector Fiona Conlon described how she called to the accused’s property on March 15, 2021 in response to a report regarding a possible illegal dog breeding establishment at the address.

Inspector Conlon described to the court how she found numerous dogs of various breeds including Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Bichons, Cockapoos, German Shepherds, Terriers and Lurchers, many of which were being used for breeding.

She found much of the accommodation to be unsuitable due to insufficient light and ventilation, wet and soiled bedding, and lack of visual stimuli.

In addition, there were a number of physical welfare issues that were immediately recognisable including severely matted, urine stained and faeces impacted coats, skin issues, overgrown nails, and odorous ears with dank matter inside.

13 dogs for which there were immediate concerns were surrendered and taken for veterinary assessment.

Seven were found to have ear infections and seven also required immediate dental attention.

When asked about the seriousness of the case, Inspector Conlon said that it was “very serious”.

She pointed out that it was a “commercial” operation and that the defendant had been “making money from the suffering of these dogs”.

Conlon reported that all dogs removed had recovered and were rehomed.

She said that they were now living the lives that they should and showed Judge Geraldine Carthy photographs of some of the dogs after their rehabilitation.

Solicitor for the defence, Brendan O’Flaherty, cited other cases that Inspector Conlon had brought before the court which he viewed as more serious.

He pointed out that all dogs had survived and suggested that they were all in good bodily condition. Inspector Conlon acknowledged that they “weren’t hungry”.

O’Flaherty also highlighted that his client had cooperated with the removal of the dogs and said that Fitzgerald’s vet was in regular with his client.

In response, Inspector Conlon queried if that vet had seen the dogs in question. O’Flaherty accepted that they had not.

Judge Carthy commented that the facts were “stark” and that photographs presented by Inspector Conlon were “upsetting to see”.

Fitzgerald produced €3,500 in court to cover costs. Judge Carthy imposed a further €3,000 in fines and disqualified Fitzgerald from keeping dogs for life.

Inspector Conlon commented:

“Dog breeding continues to be a major welfare problem in Ireland. I believe this to have been an opportunistic set-up in response to unprecedented demand for puppies during lockdown.

“The focus was on profit rather than the welfare of the dogs or the quality of puppies produced, and the result was that dogs suffered.”